Working to provoke discussion and provide up-to-date information and analysis on US-Venezuelan relations, politics, policies, and culture.

Venezuela knows what it's doing

In recent weeks, U.S. policymakers and pundits have warned that a set of constitutional reforms being considered in Venezuela are but a step toward dictatorship.

A little calm, and context, is in order. Since President Hugo Chavez's first election in 1998 and his most recent reelection in 2006, Venezuela has undergone a dramatic revolution in peace and democracy. The Venezuelan government aggressively works to expand political participation, create an equitable and sustainable economy and address long-standing social deficits.

The numbers indicate that the changes are working. The economy has entered its fourth year of consecutive growth, poverty has fallen from 55.1% of the country in 2003 to 30.4% in 2006, and Venezuelans are the second-most-likely population in the region to call their government "very democratic." Venezuela is slowly establishing the basis for a new model of democracy and development -- "socialism of the 21st century," as it has been termed -- one founded on grass-roots democratic participation, a social economy and equality in access to vital services such as healthcare and education.

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